I had a chance to stop by Rasika last Saturday. I love Indian food, and as soon as I heard that a new restaurant was opening, I had to go and see what it was like. I was also curious what Sebastian, the former wine and service director at Komi, was doing at an Indian restaurant of all places. It was only the second week that Rasika had been open, so I'll try not to be too judgmental.
First the good: Penn Quarter is really a hip neighborhood now (not that I actually know what "hip" is anymore, what with being a new dad). The crowd there was pleasant and the atmosphere elegant. Yet everyone seemed fairly casual, which I kind of liked. Most people were wearing jeans, but some were a little dressier. I saw the occasional Sari. There's a huge bar area with short, small tables that are fairly...quaint, but probably hard on the knees to sit at for too long. I'm encouraged to see places like Rasika and Indeblu opening -- it goes a long way in saying that people are recognizing Indian food as "upscale" cuisine.
As far as the food goes, the highlight of the evening was my Lamb Shank Rogan Josh, which at $19 was a pretty good deal. The portion was large and the lamb was extremely tender but not overdone. The sauce it was served in was plenty spicy which I appreciate.
The menu also seems pretty adventurous, with dishes that aren't seen at other Indian restaurants like fish manga, a sea bass with curry leaves and onion and mango. I also saw some people at the next table order the Palak Chaat, an appetizer made of crispy spinach, yogurt and date chutney -- they were going simply gah-gah over it. If I return, I'll have to try it.
I actually had my first dessert at an Indian restaurant that I enjoyed. The Apple Jalebi was just what we needed after our meal. Unlike most Indian desserts, it wasn't overly sweet because the apple gave it that little bit of tart flavor. The apple was deep fried in a sweet, honey and saffron-flavored batter and then served with cardamon ice cream.
Other than that though, I wasn't overly impressed. The Trio of Chicken Tikka that Amy ordered was too small and she was left kind of hungry. There were three flavors in the dish: chili, cheese and basil. Both the chili and basil chicken were flavorful, and the chicken was very tender, but the cheese just tasted like plain chicken. Our appetizer, the Sev Batati Puri, while a good idea in theory, was weak in flavor. Rasika is a bit more expensive than other Indian restaurants, but I think you're paying for the atmosphere -- which can be worth it depending on how you feel about such things.
And how is the new Sommelier doing at pairing wines with Indian food? Well, the earthy bottle of Buttonwood Cabernet Franc that Sebastian brought us to go with both of our dishes went great with Amy's chicken, but kind of overpowered my already spicy Rogan Josh. I guess one for two isn't bad -- it's much better than I've ever been able to do. At Rasika, the wine list that Sebastian has selected is is quite huge and has many amazing wines on it, as I'd expect from his influence.
So that's pretty much all I have to say. I encourage you all to stop by and see what Rasika is like for yourselves. It has a good deal of promise and I think that if you order wisely, you'll really enjoy yourself.
Mon - Fri: 11:30am - 2:30pm
Mon - Thu: 5:30pm - 10:30pm
Fri and Sat: 5:30pm - 11:00pm
Dress Code: Business Casual - I wore "nice" jeans
with a sport coat.
Smoking: Allowed at the bar.
Closest Metro: Gallery Place or National Archives.
Parking: Valet Parking is available. I wouldn't bother trying to find parking on your own in this area.
Reservations: Taken. Use OpenTable.
Baby-Friendly Rating: 1 out of 4 diapers. As with most places like this, I probably wouldn't take Noah there, mainly because the atmosphere is just way too nice to bring a baby too.